THE MISSION

Welcome Mothers, Fathers, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Friends and anyone else who needs an ear...Please come with an open heart.

This is a place for anyone who has felt the loss of a child. Treat this as a communication haven regardless of how or when you felt your loss. My definition of loss: miscarriage at any stage, still birth regardless of week gestation, infant death at any month, and loss of a child even if your child was all grown up. For me they all hold the same root of devestation. None are more profound or more "easily" dealt with than another.

Please cry if you need to.
Please connect with others who are in your same space.
Please email me if you feel led to
Please comment so we know what you need
Please tell your story

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Show and Tell: Demo and It's About Time!!

I have mentioned before that I live in an old house, a very old house, an 1800's farmhouse to be exact.

We love it. We fell in love with it the minute we did our first walkthrough. This love may have blindsighted us to the degree the current owners lied through their slightly-crooked teeth
about how much work had been done to the place.

We've re-wired the whole place. And that's why my husband nearly got electricuted when the knob and tube in the kitchen was still live...

Oh, the septic tank? It's been pumped every two years, and the most recent pump was just last year... Really? Is that why the guy from the septic place said it was full to bursting and we just nearly avoided it bursting cause it hadn't been done in at least 4 years?

Oh yes, we gutted every room, took out the plaster and lathes, added sheetrock and insulation -- *ahem* -- except the kitchen.

Ok, they told the truth about the kitchen. But they had to, with it's obvious plaster sticking out behind older-than-dirt wallpaper and the stunning hot-pink, plywood kitchen cabinets!

Anyway, over the course of the 8+ years we have lived here we have done little to the interior. Painted some rooms as rainbow babies arrived. And, yes, contracter Jer has actually re-done the kitchen, making his own cherry cabinets and an exposed beam ceiling I could still lie down and stare up at for hours.

And so recently we began a conversation we've had about a million times. "You know, for being such a big house it really only has three bedrooms" he said. "Yeah" I responded, "and I really miss my guest room. The girls need a playroom. *sigh* I know we've proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they cannot sleep together, but - seriously -..."

And together we finished, for we have said it to the point of naseum, "girls that size do not need bedrooms that big!"

Oddly, the conversation we've had a million times resulted in a different ending. "Well" my amazing husband said standing in the upstairs bathroom staring at the jaccuzi tub that doesn't actually work, "if I eliminated that wall and put a door here I could put a wall here, then here, and...."

You get the point. He has vision like that. I just nodded and smiled because I don't, and, even though the conversation had never progressed to this point, I still thought it was all musing and possibilities.

Until the day I came home to, this:


It seemed our 'project' had begun.


"This is a perfect size bedroom for a little girl, don't you think?" he asked me. And, yes, it looked lovely from this side of the camera. Check out the 180 degree shot!

Bear even got in on the action! She loved demo and was quite good at it.

She really loved throwing all the lathes out Comedian's bedroom window! Oh -- and in case you didn't catch on. Do you see any inulation? Sheetrock? Um, no -- really? Grrrr.... can you say, can.of.worms?

I won't even tell you about the mess the pluming is in. Liar Liar, pants on fire....that's all I have to say.
Even still, the ever growing project seems to make my family happy. I, for one, have never been happier to live within the realm of chaos. It means change is coming! Bear loves beating on things with a hammer. And Comedian, well -- just look at her and her daddy!


Current Status: The bathroom is in the hallway.

A new wall is under construction...

Comedian sleeps nightly in a 'room with a view' - if you will... (the other side of the room - to the right- is the nice, homey shot from the beginning of this post!)


And, the jacuzzi tub still sits on the front porch. Does that make us the owners of a 'redneck yard' I wonder?

Stay tuned, this project is sure to get more interesting or frustrating or expensive, or -- all of the above! But, one thing is for sure it will result in: 2 appropriately sized bedrooms for small girls and a playroom / guest room for playing and visiting!

Ahhhhhh.....progress. Nice yes? Dont' forget tos check out what everyone else is showing and telling.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Share Southern Vermont!

Hard to believe, but today is Share Southern Vermont's first birthday!!!

For my gooey, heartfelt post about the meaning of this day at SSV's blog CLICK HERE.

Oh, and if you feel like adding to the mush I am today, go ahead and leave a birthday wish for us.

Amazing, this all started with a post (Hmmm, I'd like to start some kind of support group) and a comment, (Well, have you ever heard of Share?)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Puff-Puff...Chuga-Chuga



Is a very cute book about a train conductor concerned his little engine will never survive the track with three big animals on it.

It is also a euphamism for my current mindset. Read on, and you will see why!

I am still sick. It stinks, as there is so very much I was supposed to have done / still have to do for Share by the end of the year.

It used to seem far away. Now it looms. And, so does my cough of nearly two weeks. It led me to the doctor today saying inane things like, "But I don't really feel sick-sick; I just can't stop coughing, you know?"

He raised his eyebrows at me. It was a bit daunting as he was wearing a mask and all I could see were his eyes.

One nebulizer treatment later I am now the proud owner of my very first inhaler, ever. No, I don't have asthma, but apparently whatever cold virus got a hold of me grasped tightly to my lungs (literally) and my future for the next week is measure in puffs: 2 every four hours, with kick-a$$ cough/codine medicine as a chaser so I finally get some sleep in my own bed, not sitting straight up on the couch.

Comedian doesn't sound much better. Her appt is tomorrow afternoon.

*big sigh* cough-cough -cough-cough (Note to self: deep breaths induce coughing fits...don't do it!)


I have to say, unlike last winter (which appeared to be Mrs. Spock's barnacle), this one is dragging us down in germ fest after germ fest.


Is it the new 'strains' of things floating around?


Is it because I work in a preschool where kids pick their noses then touch toys and walk away like nothing happened?


Is it because fatigue has reached a new high for me trying to burn multiple candles at both ends?


I have no idea. But I am looking forward to our 10 day break. And I am praying that the new year finds me healthy and restored with all the energy I used to possess and more.

The grant is due Jan. 11th, you know...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Stepping Back - And Not Feeling Guilty About It!

I am not supposed to be here right now. We were suppoed to be at church early today. I was supposed to fill in for the church pageant director and lead the rehearsal. I was supposed to bring a quiche for the after church luncheon. We were supposed to stay and decorate the tree, while the kids all received small gifts.

We are not there.

The flurry of phone calls it took to un-clutter our morning wasn't fun. Making executive decisions never is, but it was necessary.

Comedian isn't well enough to be there. She needs to rest, to get fully better from the hacking cough and faucet of a nose she's lived with this week as we dragged her from one 'must attend' event to another, and yet another.

Bear isn't quite that under the weather, but has that peaky look around her eyes. A sign of fatigue that even I can't miss while she says, "I'm fine! I can go to everything!"

I was quite sick mid week, berating myself for staying home from school, even while I was shivering under the covers and my fever steadily climbed over the 102 mark.

And, to complete the family experience Jer was up all night, most of it spent in the bathroom, and looks like a paler, droopier version of a man today curled up on the couch unable to move.

So, I decided to cancel our morning, letting go of whatever the fallout is on the world. Truly, I don't think we can matter quite that much. The girls are snuggled under layers of covers watching the classic Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, and I felt great joy catching up on some blogs that were long overdue.

A lesson is to be learned here. I can say it out loud, as I did to my mother, "If it is a lack luster pageant next weekend it won't be the first, and probably won't be the last".

My family comes first. Their health is more important. Yes, Bear is Mary, mother of Jesus in the show. Oh well, he'll have to get by with Joseph for the day. Sure, I made a quiche for the lunch. Aw heck, guess I'll have to have a slice or two.

I think my husband put it best. "It just shows you that all the things we think are important really aren't. We have a good life without all the drama. It's that simple."

Hope your day is calm and bright and not filled with overwhelming drama!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Blogseccible

Just because my life isn't 'blogseccible' (blog accesible - made up a new word, that's how crazy busy I am!), I still want to exchange holiday cards with those of you that mean the world to me.
Ha! The world. And, you span the world.

I'm cracking myself up.

With bad jokes.

That happens when I'm overtired and stressed.

Anyhoo, the most amazing thing happened. We went to the post office yesterday and got two festive cards! I suppost, that in-an-of-itself isn't amazing, but they were our first two of the year and from bloggy friends!!!

Oh you guys and your holiday spirit! Love you so much Mrs. Spock and A Mending Heart! (sorry no energy to link but search them out - you won't be dissapointed)

Soooo, if you want to trade super cute mugs this year (yes - faces, and yes - another bad pun) then email me! We've got a GREAT card, featuring our two living angels together in one picture and their real names if you don't already know them.

Summary:

I'm rambling. I'm stressed and overtired. I have two formal presentations and a grant to write. Tomorrow is a school day. I'm going to bed in 30 minutes. And, I want to do a card exchange. E-mail. Me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Show and Tell: Pumpkin Pie in a Jar

Remember these? Yeah. Part of the super, duper fall harvest.


Well, they sat, and sat, and sat for a bit more until Halloween had well passed and if we didn't do something soon, so would they.


"We can't let them rot" Jer said, a little manic, I worked hard growing all those.


"Yeah" I quipped, "You successfully grew a kabillion tons of something you don't even like the taste of!"


"Well" he retorted, for all yet to be retorts have to start with 'well', "I suppose it doesn't can very well..."


I felt a little be sad for him. He did put a lot of energy into those gorgeous pumpkins. So, I caved. I called his mother, otherwise known as the queen of everything canned.


"Oh sure" she said in her 'we are farmers and anything can be done' voice, "it takes a little while but it can be done and it's pretty good."


When I relayed this news to him - another Jeremiah inspiration hit.

Ok, it's slightly more labor intensive than my clever byline, but not much. The pumpkin is cooked and spiced. All you do is mix 4 eggs, 18 oz evaporated milk and 1 cup of sugar together. Dump in your pumpkin, stir and split between two pie crusts.


Oh yeah, forgot to mention - one jar makes two pies.


Cool huh?


But, just in case you were wondering, my mother in law's nonchallance turned out to be the understatment of the year to the tune of a couple early morning nights waiting for the pressure canner to de-compress.


Still - the pies are yummy!


Any post-thanksgiving food revelations for you? What's everyone else showing and telling?

Monday, November 30, 2009

To Black or To Cyber?

"Do you do Black Friday?"

"Nope." I answered. "It's not my thing, the lines, the crowds, the chaos."

"But you LOVE deals!" my friend said.

"Yup, that's why I do cyber Monday."

She had never heard of it. I educated her, citing years when all my Ch.rist.mas shopping was done in one fell click-clack of the keyboard as I sipped coffee and relished that I never left my home to shop.

Oddly, I'm not 'doing' cyber monday this year. And, it's not because of any economy woes. I could if I wanted to, but somehow, this clean my house top to bottom, clear out corners of clutter, and - in the process - create more filled contractors bags of trash than a mini-demo team has opened my eyes to what we have.

Enough.

We don't need more. And amazingly, inside this minute, I don't want more. Not even if it is half off with free shipping and would look striking on the bathroom wall.

It seems I actually internallized the lesson of the recession. We are a blessed country. I have more than enough. What I truly need will always be provided for me.

Chances are time will swing me back to some kind of happy medium. I'll shop again, moderately, I'll clean again, without the fanatical gleam in my eye. I'll find a calm space to work within. But for today, I go back to work and leave the deal snatching to my capable online friends!

So, do you 'do' cyber Monday?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Complete 180

I have become a clean freak.

Almost overnight - well, more like over the last month, but still, a - if you take something out put it away, if you turn on a light then turn it off, consistantly nagging and scrubbing something neatnik.

I cannot go to bed with a dirty kitchen.

The cushions on the couch being askew sends me over the edge.

The bed must be made.

Unfinshed projects must be completed.

And, (don't gasp), the laundry must be sorted, folded, and put away.

This is unprecedented for me. I have never (and feel free to ask my mother if you think I'm exaggerating), I repeat, never been an instinctual cleaner.

It took an external motivation to make me clean. Often, the prospect of being judged or embrassed by my surroundings, like when people were coming over, could push me over that clorax/bucket edge. But, even then, the difference between neat and clean were lines that consistantly blurred for me and never, for one minute, did I want to be scrubbing the toilet.

I'm not pregnant. Hence, I'm not nesting. We are not selling the house. I don't have any major gatherings on the horizon.

So, what's up? I am freaking myself out. I'm white-on-rice on anyone who leaves anything laying around. I bellow their name creating syllables where they don't exist. It's a tell. They walk slowly.

I suppose I should embrace this new level of white-space living, but to be honest I'm driving myself a little crazy. (Seriously, I'm considering mopping the kitchen floor before bed) And, if I'm sending myself over the edge, I can only imagine what my family must be thinking. Um, did mom get kidnapped by aliens and replaced with a robot version or something? would probably be pretty accurate.

A happy medium would be great. I could get a bit more blogging, reading and commenting done too! Any ideas? Any sympathy? Been there? Talk to me!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Show and Tell: Click - Clack - Click - The Punchline I Never Saw Coming


















I love scrapbooking. I love taking pictures.


I didn't even care, much, that my camera was on it's last clicking legs. The images were getting hazier, the battery door was cracked, and the recovery time between pics had me yawning.

Even still, when I lost the camera I was devestated.

And, it was right before the bowling event when I was supposed to be uploading images of all the raffle items to the website!

I begged to borrow a friend's. She's a good friend. She let me.

I lived fitfully without my camera for three weeks only letting a random, "Oh - I wish I could take a picture of that" or "I guess this will have to be a mental picture" pass my lips, lest I receive the raised eyebrow look from my hubby.

Two weeks before the event I raised the question of buying a new one. I approached it well, I thought and he was on board before I even finished my well practiced pitch. So, I went for it.

"Well, I could get what we had before. You know they are pretty cheap now. Or I could get a good camera."

He raised his eyebrows. I continued.

"Yes, its an investement but the quality is amazing and the features are awesome and if I get it this weekend with the S.e.ar.s card there is a percentange of money off and no financing for 18 months!"

With eyebrows still raised, he nodded, then smiled.

And so, that weekend I took 30 minutes out of my 12 hour (9am to 9pm) scrapbooking day with my good friend (the one who lent me hers) to go buy my new tashmahal of cameras!





















A half an hour later I re-entered the Hol.ida.y I.nn proud as punch and ready to keep scrapping the backlog of pictures I had so I could take hundreds more with my new toy!

As I approached the table my friend raised her eyebrows. "What did I miss?" I asked.

"Your husband called." she said, "He found your camera."

I acutally laughed out loud. "Ha! Good one. That's really not a funny joke, though" I said, still laughing.

"Not kidding" she replied. "I'm not creative to make that up."

And so, I used my new camera to take a picture of my old camera and vice versa - and wha-la, a show and tell in the making!

Yes, I asked him if that meant I had to return the new one and the benevelent soul he is said no, but 'no Christmas presents under the tree for you' in a very soup-nazi kind of voice)

I can live with that. My camera rocks!


Now, go see what other good shows and tells are out there this week!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Liberation

There is somthing wildly liberating about this phrase: "I have the whole week off".

I must have said it at least a half dozen times today.

I have planned, then re-planned, then scrapped every notion of a plan for the time - just because I can.

I realized something. I have been tired, really tired, lately. And, yeah - you could make a case for fatigue based on the hours I work plus working the strings on non-profit event after, fundraiser, after meeting.

But it's more than that.

I realized, the idea of working makes me tired. Strange, huh? But it must be true for the nearly-tangible aftershock of my repeated phrase today -- I have the whole week off -- was an influx of energy, resulting in a very clean house, good food on the table, 150 pages of a book ingested, and still enough energy remaining coupled with a burning desire to post, leading me here at 10:00 pm.

And why, might you ask, can I luxioursly type to the internets at large at such an hour? I'll tell you. Because I have the whole week off! (translation: I don't have to rush out the door tomorrow!)

And, quite suddenly, the Cara of last year seems reborn, or - at the very least, her spirit possesses me for the moment, and most probably, the week.

I want to write. I want to search through emotions. I want to discect realities for their roots. I need to revist your lives. I desire to see what pages you have turned, like looking at pictures of the same person months apart and noting all the suble differences you missed in the everyday of their lives.

Ahhh- and it feels good. I feel home. I feel back where I should be. And because I want to stay in this emotion I write my intention for the week here. With it, I give you blanket permission to point out if you feel like I am leaning hard in the direction I don't want to go. Like...if I start lamenting that I can't finish painting the section of hallway that has sat unfinished for two years because the local hardware store can't match the paint, then make it a shade lighter because that section of the hallway is really dark...

See how easily I walk that road? Please pull me back. I'll thank you for it. Promise.

I intend to live every minute of this week with gratitude for the time I don't usually have alloted to me, with gratitude for what I accomplish but not frustration for what I didn't manage to get to, and to let go what cannot be done in favor of quiet, special moments with my kids and family.

In short -- I aim to feel led, not lead.

Missed you. Terribly. Tell me what I missed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The First of Anything...

(This post duplicated at Share Southern Vermont's Blog with pictures!)

She held my gaze with tears in her eyes, words tumbling out, eager to be free and I, just as eager to hear them.

"I'll never forget the day I was reading the paper online and saw a link to 'new infant loss group'. Of course, I had to click on it and read your article. Tears fell as I read it again and again. I printed it out and held it, wanting to give it to my daugther but knowing it wasn't yet time."

I smiled, already knowing the ending to this story, yet needing to hear it again if for no other reason to solidfy that the facts of the last year are actually true, that I haven't been living a dream that a good solid pinch will wake me up from.

"That was last February" she continued, tears more prominant than ever, "and here we are, in November - bowling. My daughter found you, found your group."

Yes, yes she did and we are so grateful for her strong presence, both in group and as part of our ever expanding board.

"My prayers were answered" she concluded and I found that we were holding hands, joined in our reverie even as the chatter of giggling families and clatter of bowling balls whirred around us.
***
The event was everything is was meant to be. As always, all the right people were there and received exactly what they needed. It was advertised as a 'celebration of family' and one pan of the room conveyed that our intentions had indeed been met. Yet, even as balls hit gutters, pizza was consumed and cheering ensued as someone threw a strike, our babies were remembered, were there amounst us, smiling angels on our shoulders.

I stop short when I think what has been achieved in just one year and look forward to the lighthearted celebratory conversation that will spin around the dinner table as the board members dine together on December 22nd, our one year anniversary.

Even so, there is so much more to be done. Lest we not lose our momentum, but let it gather speed propelling us futher down the track of expansion, reaching every family, every parent, every heart broken by loss.

For images from that day, click over.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Epiphany

As I searched for formerly-stored boxes and recently packed ones, stacking them haphazardly in the corner to be loaded into the car at a time yet to be decided as it is currently pouring outside and looks not to be subsiding anytime soon, my email beeped.

I ran to it hoping it was an update about something for tomorrow.

It was an update, from St.ap.les. In a flash my mind forwarded to the location I will be in later today, walking the isles as the copy center prints our program. Instantly, I was calm, no longer frenzied by the mis-stacked boxes still threatening to fall.

Is that sad? That St.ap.les is my favorite store of all time? That all the uber organized isles full of color coded binders, sticky notes, and carasouls of small offices supplies: paper clips, binder clips, and push pins, settle my soul?

How I wish my house could inflict the same sense of peace. Ah well, back to the office to search out a few more well hidden things. S.t.apl.es, see you in a couple hours!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The ups and the downs

This has been such an emotional week. Half the time I'm struck by the fact that I want to fly to my friend and the other half I'm in auto-pilot, checking last-minute details off the Bowling for Babies to-do list.

Honestly, it feels somewhat easier to be the computer: running and doing, thinking and forgetting, then remembering, driving to pick things up and drop things off then it does to the the compassionate friend who can get sucked into an emotional portal in a second.

The event is Sunday. Then I plant my feet. I travel to her on Wednesday, then again on Sunday for the memorial.

Oh, and for those of you that read the local paper and my blog -- the event is really Sunday, this Sunday, not the one they mis-printed for all to see. *sigh* Have to go put out media-fires...

A good show and tell planned for next week and wouldn't say no to some benevelent soul wanting nothing more than to take over all media promotions for events!

Monday, November 9, 2009

A New Day...

I'm doing a little better today. The afore mentioned training has kicked in and I'm preparing a trip to see my friend. I'll be laden down with the package I'm so used to sending, minus all the share grief support materials, of course - she already has them.

Thanks to all of you for your kind words and prayers - for her - and for me.

What I'm wondering today is, if you are the support and it happens to you, what happens within you?

Does the congntitive process of what you should do to set the stage for healthy grieving automatically start up, like a remote starter on a car? Do you watch yourself walk through each step as though outside of your body?

Or, does the shock and subsequent shut down from the fact that it is now your reality trump what you've been taught, making you as ready for guidance and support as the person who had no idea it was possible to bury your child?

Ideas? Theories? Personal Experience? Hit me. I'm digging deep here, for never before have I needed to do this right so badly.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Grief

I am heavy with grief today. My body aches. My eyes brim, silently spilling without provocation. Images fill my head and no real life presence can make them evaporate, like ashes, into the air.

This morning I received an email that, yet another baby had been born still. I receive them all the time: the calls, the emails, the references from a friend of a friend; but this was different.

I sat, reading and re-reading, thinking it had to be wrong. This couldn't have happened to her. No. It just wan't possible. Not even the unbalaned choas of this world could justify that she would be the 1 in 4.

***
We met at the Share National Training last spring. A small intimate group sat around the table and over the course of 5 days we knew details about each others lives as minute as the lines in a fallen leaf. We bonded, all of us, but this woman and I connected, really connected, and not just because we had travelled half-way across the country from the same small section of the Northeast. We could have been on the same airplane.

Two paths converging. Two lives about to be forever changed. Neither of us had a clue.

***
She's special for so many reasons:

~She is a social worker.
~She is a yoga teacher, for adult and children alike.
~She runs a Share support group.
~She runs a pregnancy after loss group.
~She is a loving mother to her girls.

But, most of all -- and this is the key that unlocked my affection for her -- she chose to attend that training. She intentionaly put herself in a place to learn more about bereavemnt, to listen to broken parents speak of their lost little ones. She opened herself to a world most push away with brute force, unwilling to listen because it might make it possible.

She welcomed the knowledge with a serene smile, an understanding heart, and a desire to truly help.

And, if you have read here for any length of time, you will remember a story of a quest during that conference: a desire to lounge in a hot tub made possible by a giving friend. She is that friend. She made it happen.

***
Today, I brim with equal measures of grief and anger, my day derailed by the undeniable remined that babies die everyday.

This is the email I sent her:

"I need to you know how affected I am by your loss. I get these calls and emails all time, as do you, but with you it's different. Silent tears fell all through church. I asked someone else to teach my Sunday School. I have images playing through my head that I can't be sure happened. Our time together last spring was a bonding experience. Looking back now it is obvious we met for a reason...even though I just was so grateful to you for being who you are: a kind, compassionate person in a helping field, attending a training to be better prepared to help OTHERS as they lived the tragedy of babyloss. I told my husband that it is rare to find people like you.I think that is why I'm so broken with grief for your lost girl and anger that YOU, you of all people didn't deserve this. I know I'm rambling and you are in no space to hear my emotional rambles. I just wanted you to know how much you are filling my day, I'll cry for you all day if I have to, I'll purge my emotions -- then, my training will kick back in and I will support you however I best can."

Past meets present. My experience converging with her reality. Our history setting the stage for a new type of relationship.

I hate that we now are in this club together. I hate that I now get to say, "I am so sad to be here. I am so glad I came" to her.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tomorrow

Tomorrow I scrapbook -all day - 9am to 9pm.

Why oh why did I commit to this? I asked myself more than once today.

I don't have one picture cropped. I don't have any papers sorted. My materials are scattered across the office. sigh

Not to mention that I can't not think about Bowling for Babies for more than thirty seconds.

No! I am scrapbooking.

I will take a break from the whirlwind my life has become and allow the moment to re-take me. I think I might finish the half-complete album about me, my childhood, my adolescence, my early years with Jer.

Yes. A trip down memory lane is exactly what I need. (with a brief sneak-out to pick up the addition bhb flyers that are ready and waiting at St.a.ple.s. I can't totally shut off - I mean... really)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Show and Tell - The Ties That Bind

The chinese raffle for Bowling For Babies has taken great gabs of my time as of late, and I've loved every minute of it. They have been arriving via email, snail mail, UPS and in person.
I've made new friends and been reminded of tried and true ones. Today, these showed up.



They are from Babysmiling. Her show and tell for the week describes them perfectly, but what it doesn't say is how the package reminded me that my friends live far and wide. That, presumably, the words typed here stay with them for a spell, causing them to make an effort to package and ship bowls even while reveling in their new twin babies!

That is what amazes me most. Our binding ties remain, even as babies fly, or are born, and life takes over for a time.

I've shared before, but it's worth repeating in my emotional state that other blogging friends are participating in this event too.

Martha from A Sense of Humor made this gorgeous necklace.



And Lindsay from Destined To Be An Old Woman With No Regrets sent this framed shot all the way from her Canadian post as she watied out the end of her pregnancy!


Pamela donated a copy of her memoir, Silent Sorority.

And Are You Kidding Me? donated time to crochet some angels for the ornment drive!

And so, you can see why I feel like this raffle is as much yours as it is the people who physically walk in the door of the Springfield Bowling Alley on Sunday, November 15th.

Sure, you may not be able to take advantage of a gift certificate to a local eatery or come in to pain your own pottery, but there are many prizes in the ever growing list that could easily be shipped to your front door.

CLICK HERE to preview the current item list. READ the raffle directions. Then, if something catches your eye, ENTER using the donate button and be sure to specify how to distribute your tickets!
Thank again, to each of you, for your support over the last year. Your words have sustained me through every transition. This reality is yours to celebrate too.
While you do, peruse what the rest of the class is showing and telling!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Week by week...

life seems to get a tad bit more overwhelming, not in a bad way, just a try to get everything done and still have a sane smile at the end of the day, way.

Thanks to all of you for your insightful responses to my last post. I am certainly feeling more at peace about my decision and blessed that another member of our board can attend. It is time to give up certain contols and let the crew man the ship a bit. Not an easy task for a person like me, but necessary when, as I just told a friend, "the thing you built is growing faster than you ever imagined."

An issue for a self-proclaimed control freak like me.

I have posts that are extremely important to me brewing, about the lighting cermony, about my big-daddy benefactor of sorts showing up, about love and life and seeing a side of my little girl I never thought I would.

I have catching up to do within your lives. I have babies to welcome. Anniversaries to belatedly acknowledge, hoping the mommy and daddy know I was thinking of them on their day. And sad moments to support.

Even as the chicken sautees, the pumpkins sit half-carved, the UPS man approaches the door, the Bowling for Babies flyer is 3/4 done, the eggs boil, the dough for our cinnamon buns rises, and my 332 pictures beg to be uploaded and ordered from Sn.ap.fi.sh my mind flies to all of you and the words spin through my head.

I have come to the unsatisfactory, yet realistic conclusion that I am at a blogging crossroads. I blog for me, and for you, but primarily to keep my senses sharp, my words in tune, and my emotions processing about the loss of our little girl. In just over a year I have nearly hit 300 posts. Writing daily was cathartic. It was my outlet. It allowed me to cultivate the relationships I now find myself missing daily.

Even so, at this time one or two posts a week is all I will be able to create until the new year. Until all the fundraisers are done, numbers added, and Share Southern Vermont's first tax return filed. I have to be ok with this down shift. I have to use it as a learning experience in the world of blogging. I imagine they all have their ebbs and flows. Just know that the ebb frustrates me as much as my lack of commenting might irk you.

Catch you on the fly...

Friday, October 16, 2009

The First Test

Recently I wrote about balance, or the search for it, within my life for I often feel like I am leading two well-cast, yet parallel existances: one with the living the; other with the dead. Or more accurately, not with the dead, but because of them.

They don't intersect well.

More often than not I find myself faced with choices that lay on either side of the lifeline. Choices that leave me feeling like lose:lose is a guilt ridden understatement. For, regardless of which side of the line I land, someone will be negated, or left out, or added in when they didn't need to be, or over-exposed to the concept of death, or left behind while I go attend to that very thing.

This has been my delicate dance since I started Share Southern Vermont. I dove into the mission with a fire burning in my broken heart, finally feeling like I found a way to parent Emma while unconsciously burdening myself with the added dillema of choosing to spend my time with my living children or taking action in memory of my spirit one.

I repeat: without boundaries they don't intersect well.

And perhaps that is my real issue. Maybe balance isn't my holy grail of time management. Instead, I might need clearly defined, boldly outlined peremiters to keep me where I am supposed to be, when I am meant to be there.

Because babies will die everyday. No amount of wishful, child-like, kum-buy-ah thinking will keep it from happening.

My living children grow and learn everyday too.
My husband and I seem to see less and less of each other with each passing moon.

There is a memorial service for twins who perished inutero as a result of a car crash next Sunday at 3pm.

At the exact same time there is a couples class at our church, the first in a series of three, intended to strenthen how we, as husband and wife, listen to and communicate with each other. And, in turn, how we parent the little ones who look to us as models of social appropriateness.

I was temporarily stumped. I always make an effort to go to the services for infants in Southern Vermont. It shows the parents that perfect strangers do care because they too have lived those horrific moments. It gives them someone to cry out to through the computer. It often gives them the intense courage to walk into a support group meeting sooner, rather than later.

But my family unit is important. How we build our routines and work as a team is vital to our future.

It appears I am going to miss this memorial. It makes me sad. I hope and pray this family knows how much we have to offer them. But on that day, at that time, I will be doing something so my husband and I have more to offer our family.

Balance... boundaries...

I wonder, did I pass my first test?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Poem for Us All

Currently, I am re-printing our International Wave of Light programs because an idea came to me, last minute - as most of my good ones do.


As we light our candles tomorrow night my father will strum his guitar. At first, the background music seemed enough, a light touch to add to the memorial at hand. But then, I wanted, no - needed a poem. Something equally light and airy, not too deep, the perfect words to compliment random chords and small, moving bits of light.

After making a call, it came to me. My mind rewinding to the last day of my Share training.

Our closing ceremony was brief, filled with music, tears, complicated I-just-met-you-but-can't-stand-to-go goodbyes, and - a poem. This poem. It is perfect.

I type it here for each of you. If you are lighting candles tomorrow night, perhaps you might read it along with us. The idea of our collective actions happening simultaenously across the globe lights the flame within me.

For each and every one of you missing your sweet angel babies...

We Remember Them

In the rising of the sun and its going down –
We remember them
In the blowing of the wind and the chill of winter –
We remember them
In the grayness of an early morning rain and in the promise of the rainbow that follows,
We remember them

In the opening of bud and in the rebirth of spring,
We remember them
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
We remember them
In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
We remember them

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
We remember them
When we are weary and in need of strength,
We remember them
When we are lost and sick at heart,
We remember them
When we have joys we yearn to share,
We remember them

So long as we live they too shall live, for they are a part of us as,
We remember them

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Sermon I Need To Hear Again...

And again, and with our monthly support group this Wednesday followed directly by the National Wave of Light candle lighting ceremony on Thursday, a message I will have to read daily to stay sane.

Last Friday night I wrote of my religion as a prelude to this post. One most certainly begets the other, so if you missed it -- it might be worth a click over.

I read from the book of Matthew, Chapter 6: Verse 25 - 34, Entitled: Do Not Worry

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed liek one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

And then, I began.

LAST JUNE I STOOD HERE AND SPOKE OF PURPOSE, OF FINDING YOUR ROAD AND WALKING IT WITHOUT FEAR OF ROADBLOCKS OR DETOURS.

IN JUNE I STOOD BEFORE YOU ASKING, WHERE IS YOUR GOD?

WITHIN YOU OR OUTSIDE OF YOU?

CAUSING YOU TO FEEL LED OR WAITING FOR YOU TO ANSWER?

TODAY, A MERE THREE MONTHS LATER, I STAND BEFORE YOU AGAIN TO SPEAK OF BALANCE.

THE WORD ITSELF IS ILLUSIVE. THE CONCEPT CONSIDERED BUNK BY MANY, BUT STILL – WE SEARCH FOR IT, TRY TO CREATE IT IN OUR LIVES.

BALANCE BETWEEN WORK AND HOME

BALANCE THE ATTENTION WE GIVE OUR CHILDREN

BALANCE THE MONEY THAT COMES IN WITH THE MONEY THAT GOES OUT

BALANCE OUR MORALS AND VALUES WITH THE DEMANDS OF THIS INCREASINGLY CORRUPT WORLD

ALL THESE STRUGGLES ARE VALID, STRESSORS THAT EXIST IN OUR DAILY LIVES, AND YET – TODAY, I ASK THE BIGGER QUESTION:

WHERE IS YOUR BALANCE? THE BALANCE BETWEEN YOU AND THE WORLD?

WE ENTER THE WORLD COMPLETELY DEPENDANT, AND – IF AGE IS WHAT RETURNS US TO OUR MAKER – WE LEAVE IT THE SAME WAY.

AS INFANTS WE HAVE NO RESPONSIBILITY TO OTHERS. WE EXIST BECAUSE THEY DO, FEEDING US, BATHING US, LOVING US, TEACHING US.

OUR EXISTANCE FOR THE EARLY FORMATIVE YEARS OF OUR LIFES IS ENTIRELY SELF-SERVING.

AFTER THE BIRTH OF A FIRST CHILD, THE PARENTS CAN BE HEARD TO JOKINGLY LAMENT, “IT’S NOT ABOUT US ANYMORE. EVERYONE WHO COMES, CALLS, OR VISITS IS HERE ABOUT THE BABY!”

A FEW YEARS LATER, WE OFTEN ROLE OUR EYES AT OUR 3 YEAR OLD SAYING, “ALL THEY THINK ABOUT IS THEMSELVES –THEY LIVE IN A ME – ME – ME KIND OF WORLD!”

AND THEY DO. AND THEY SHOULD.

BUT SOMEWHERE ALONG THE LINE, AS PRE-TEENS PERHAPS, OR YOUNG ADULTS – THE LINES GET BLURRED.

WE SHIFT FROM A WORLD REVOLVING EXCLUSIVELY AROUND ‘US’ TO A WORLD WHERE THE REQUIREMENT IS TO SERVE ‘THEM’

DO NOT THINK OF SELF – BUT THINK OF OTHERS

DO NOT ACT IN YOUR OWN BEST INTEREST, BUT FOR THE NEEDS OF OTHERS AROUND YOU

2 Peter 1:5-7 ESV / 3 helpful votes
"For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love."

INDEED, THIS IS A NOBLE DIRECTION. AND, THERE ARE SOME BORN INTO THIS WORLD AS GIVERS.

I THINK OF A YOUNG GIRL IN OUR PRESCHOOL. SMALL AND QUIET, SWEET TO A FAULT, AND ALWAYS FOUND DIRECTLY NEXT TO, OR HELPING, OR DOING SOME THING FOR THE EQUALLY SWEET CHILD WITH DOWNS SYNDROME. I LOOK AT HER AND THINK, ‘SHE IS GOING INTO A HELPING FIELD SOMEDAY!”

FOR OTHERS, THE TRANSITION IS LESS THAN SMOOTH. GIVING IS A LEARNED SKILL, THINKING OF OTHERS FIRST – OFFERING THE LAST ROLL TO THE THREE PEOPLE AT THE TABLE BEFORE TAKING IT FOR YOURSELF DOES NOT COME NATURALLY, BUT HAS TO BE MODELED, PRACTICED, AND THEN - PERHAPS - HABITUAL.

STILL, THE EVOLUTION OF SELF-CENTERED LIVING TO SELFLESS LIVING IS ONE THAT ALL FAMILIES SEEM TO TEACH, REGARDLESS OF RELIGIOUS BELIEFS.

I AM VERY MUCH LIKE THAT YOUNG ‘HELPER’ GIRL. IN FACT, I WOULD VENTURE A VERY ACCURATE GUESS THAT I WAS THAT GIRL IN PRESCHOOL, AS A YOUNG CHILD, AS A PRE-TEEN, AND I KNOW I AM AS A YOUNG ADULT.

AT TIMES, MY ‘DO FOR OTHERS WITHOUT THINKING OF THE COST TO SELF’ ACTIONS GOT ME IN TROUBLE.

SOMETIMES I WOULD GET SICK, MY BODY’S WAY OF TELLING ME I HAD EXERTED TOO MUCH, AND IF I WASN’T GOING TO TAKE TIME FOR SELF, THEN IT WOULD FORCE ME TO.

SOMETIMES, I WOULD HAVE TO PAY FOR OTHER’S MISTAKES. LIKE THE TIME I VOUCHED FOR A VIRTUAL STRANGER AS HE PURCHASED A CELL PHONE AND FOUND THAT YEARS LATER IT NEARLY AFFECTED OUR ABILITY TO PURCHASE OUR FIRST HOME.

BUT MOSTLY, I FOUND MOTIVATION AND PRIDE AND REWARD IN PUTTING OTHERS FIRST.

***

THEY SAY THAT OPPOSITES ATTRACT, AND THAT OVERUSED STEROTYPE IS HAUNTINGLY TRUE IN MY MARRIAGE. HOWEVER, IN ONE VERY FUNDAMENTAL WAY WE ARE IDENTICAL.

I MARRIED A GIVER. LAST YEAR HE GAVE ME A GIFT.

‘TAKE THE YEAR’ HE SAID WHEN THE CONTRACT I THOUGHT A SURE THING FELL THROUGH, ‘I’LL WORK OVERTIME TO COVER THE FINANCES. YOU DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO.”

FOR ONE SATURDAY MORNING I HAD TEARFULLY CONFESSED HOW I HAD A WILD IDEA…A DESIRE – NO AN ABSOLUTE NEED – TO WRITE A BOOK. HOW THE TIME SEEMED TO BE AT HAND TO FOCUS ON EMMA, HER MEMORY AND WHAT HER LEGACY HERE, IN THIS WORLD, WOULD BECOME.

HE GRANTED MY WISH.

HE REMOVED MY STRESSORS, TAKING THEM ONTO HIS OWN SHOULDERS.

HE ALLOWED ALL MY FANATICAL IDEAS TO SPIN AROUND OUR HOUSE, NODDING AND SMILING AS YET ANOTHER ‘BIG NOTION’ HIT ME – PROPELLING MY ALREADY RACING PACE.

HE WORRIED FOR ME, AS I TOOK ON YET ANOTHER PROJECT, OR WRITING ASSIGNMENT, OR STARTED ANOTHER BLOG.

OUR RELATIONSHIP WAS VERY ONE SIDED. THE WEIGHTS THROWN VASTLY OFF BALANCE. HE GAVE – I SEARCHED.

AND I, VERY MUCH LIKE THAT THREE YEAR OLD, FOCUSED ON MYSELF: MY IDEAS, MY NON-PROFIT, MY DESIRES, MY NEED TO BE EMMA’S MOTHER IF ONLY BY GIVING TO OTHERS.

HOWEVER, FOR ALL MY EGOCENTRIC WAYS, GOD FOUND ME IN A STRONGER, MORE CONNECTED WAY THAN EVER BEFORE.

I MEDITATED DAILY. HEARING MY WAY, AFFIRMING MY PATH. KNOWING EACH NEW STEP WAS RIGHT EVER IF I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND WHERE I WAS HEADED.

I SAW HIM THROUGH DAILY DOINGS, ACKNOWLEDGING HIS PRESENACE WITH A NOD AND A GRATEFUL SMILE.

I FELT HIM WORK WITHIN ME AS I HAD A GENUINE DESIRE TO EXERCISE MORE AND EAT HEALTHER FOODS, WITH THE PLEASANT RESULT THAT I FELT COMFORTABLE WITHIN MY BODY AGAIN.

I WALKED TALLER.

I FELT COMFORTABLE IN MY OWN SKIN.

I LIVED MY LIFE – TRULY ENJOYING EVERY MINUTE, EVEN THE ONES THAT COULD BE PERCIEVED AS UNFORTUNATE OR BAD, KNOWING THAT IF I LOOKED HARD ENOUGH, OR WAITED A FEW EXTRA MINUTES THE GOODNESS WITHIN THE NEGATIVITY WOULD PRESENT ITSELF.

TIME WAS FLUID, AND EASY, AS IF THERE WOULD ALWAYS BE MORE THAN ENOUGH TIME TO ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING I WANTED.

IT WAS A MAGICAL YEAR.

TOGETHER – WE WERE POWERFUL – GOD AND I.

THE RESULTS WERE OBVIOUS. FRIEND WERE CONSTANTLY COMMENTING ON HOW 'CALM' I SEEMED. MY KIDS SETTLED, OUR DAILY LIFE FLOWING WITH AN EASE IT NEVER HAD BEFORE, AND FIRST TIME EVENTS - LIKE OUR MEMORY WALK DREW OVER 80 PEOPLE.

LIFE WAS GOOD. LIFE WAS EASY. ANYTHING WAS POSSIBLE.

THAT YEAR IS OVER, AND WITH IT - THE MAGIC HAS FLOWN.

I HAVE REENTERED THE WORLD.

I AM BACK TO WORK.

THE WORLDY STRESSORS HAVE RETURNED.

I SEEM NOT TO FIND TIME FOR DAILY PRAYER AND MEDITATION ANY MORE, MY MIND CLUTTERED WITH TOO MANY RESPONSIBILITES, TOO MANY ‘NEED TO DO’S’.

– AND ALTHOUGH I WOULD NOT CALL OUR RELATIONSHIP BALANCED EXACTLY – I KNOW THAT I HAVE TAKEN SOME OF THE WEIGHT OFF MY HUSBAND’S SHOULDERS.

ALL THIS WAS NECESSARY, BUT AT A COST.

I HAVE LOST THAT SENSE OF SELF. I HAVE SWUNG BACK TO THE FAR RIGHT, AND AS MUCH AS I KNOW THAT GOD IS STILL BESIDE ME, CHEERING ME ON, I NO LONGER FEEL HIM WORKING WITHIN ME, EVERY DAY, EVERY MINUTE.

LAST YEAR - I LIVED AS MATTHEW DIRECTED: NOT WORRYING ABOUT THE LOGISTICS OF MY LIFE, WHERE THE FOOD WAS COMING FROM, THE CLOTHES, THE TIME, THE NEED…JEREMIAH TOOK THAT ON.

6:34 – "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

MY CHALLENGE NOW, IS TO REMEMBER THAT. TO LIVE MATTHEW’S WORDS IN SPITE OF:

THE DINNER THAT ISN’T QUITE ON THE TABLE,

THE CLOTHES THAT HAVE YET TO MAKE IT TO THE DRYER,

THE PRESS RELEASES THAT JUST MISSED THE DEADLINE FOR NEXT WEEK’S PAPER,

THE LACK OF ATTENDACE AT AN EVENT BECAUSE I DIDN’T HAVE THE TIME TO DEVOTE TO MEDIA COVERGE,

THE TIME I KNOW I SHOULD SET ASIDE FOR MEDITATION AND PRAYER,

THE TIME I KNOW I NEED TO DEVOTE TO MY HUSBAND FOR ALL HIS SUPPORT, HIS LOVE, AND HIS WILLINGESS TO TAKE ON MORE THAN HIS SHARE.

AND SO, I'LL SAY THIS OUT LOUD:

I ACCEPT THIS CHALLENGE, KNOWING FULL WELL I WILL HAVE TO RETURN TO THIS SCRIPTURE OFTEN, DAILY PERHAPS – FOR I WILL FAIL.

TODAY – I CHALLENGE YOU TO THE SAME.

REMEMBER YOURSELF AT THE CENTER OF YOUR LIFE, WITH THE SAME VIGOR YOU CULTIVATE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR GOD.

AND THEN
, REACH OUT, GIVE, SERVE, PROVIDE, FOR YOU WILL HAVE GREAT THINGS TO GIVE.

FOR ACTIONS BASED ON REQUIREMENT ARE HOLLOW, LEADING TO REGRETTABLE RESULTS.

BUT, JUST AS WATER BECAME WINE AND A MODDUCUM OF FISH AND BREAD BECAME ENOUGH FOR THE MASSES -

ACTIONS BASED ON A KNOWLEDGE OF YOUR SELF AND YOUR GOD WORKING WITHIN YOU – YIELD BOUNTY YOU CAN NEVER IMAGINE…

I PRAY I FIND THE BALANCE. I PRAY THE MAGIC RETURNS.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Show and Tell: Abundance

We like to celebrate the abundance of things in our life. We use it to teach the children gratitude and satisfaction for our experience. We recognize that others don't have even that.

This time of year is full to bursting!

Emma's bush is full of gorgeous red leaves. Even as Comedian grieves the fact that they will 'fall off and die" she makes a point to mention they will "pop back after the snow melts".


And, after a year when the topic of in-town summer conversations lamented on various responses to, "And how was your garden this year?" we consider ourselves wildly abundant to have this:

I mean, look at the size of that blue hubbard squash

The chickens are all grown up. They say "don't count your chickens", but I do. There are 23 and even though only about half are currently laying we fill an egg carton a day.

A pantry full of canned vegetable will sustain us for the winter.

The outdooor furnace we (Um: I mean he) fills morning and night sits next about 22 cord of wood.


And so, it seems that if the world were to stop turning for a few moons we would be allright. For we have more than enough, no - much more than enough to be happy and healthy.

What are you grateful for that others might not have? What are you showing and telling?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Delivering A Message

It is a quiet Friday night. My husband is working. The kids are in bed. The diswasher is running. My floors are swept, pans washed and for the first time in what seems a millenium, I did NOT neurotically check my children's hair for invisibile nits that I know aren't there any longer but feel compelled to look anway.

A glass of pinot sits to my right and time streches before me as I sculpt it.

I could do lots of things, most too mundane to mention, yet I feel like sharing something with you. Something I never have.

I am a Christian. I believe in God. I don't believe I've ever said that here for it was neither here nor there, as I love and support each newcomer in this community not for their faith or their disbelief or their indifference to a higher power, but because we have all been bonded by something more, something that fears, doubts, wonders, and - most probably - is angry at that higher power in the wake of our loss.

So why do I make a point of it now? In my last post I mentioned that I stepped in for our pastor last week. Yeah - I preached! It isn't the first time. And, I don't think it's presumptious to say that it probably won't be the last.

Why me? That is a question I can't even begin to answer. You'd have to ask my preacher. But what I can tell you is what I speak on when I'm called to stand before the group of people I've come to know over the years.

Last year, I addressed the church with a talk entitled, "Searching Faith or Grieving Faith". It was a rambling oral essay on the plight of analyzing your faith after tragedy. It included this.

My definition of FAITH:

An entity, which once part of your being, never leaves you. Even in the midst of tragedy, confusion, devastation, and questions you will never have answers to, faith still lives inside you. You might not focus on it, or even acknowledge it, but you feed it just by living. Just by waking up every day and going to bed every night, you keep faith alive. It’s there, waiting, biding its time until you are ready to call on it again. When you do, your old friend is there in an instant, in whatever measure you need. It grows with you as you search for meaning and it strengthens you when you find your path. It embraces you as take your next step, and feeds you peace and joy with every further step you take.


That was last summer.

***

Early this summer, I was called on again.

I prepared a heartfelt talk about finding your purpose. About recognizing your purpose when it presents itself at your waiting feet. I spoke of direction and blind faith that even when you question the outcome of your next step, you know it is the direction you are meant to go. I spoke of endless energy, and love, and desire to do more, be more, accomplish more, because you love your work.

And then, I said that I had found mine. That Share Southern Vermont was mine. That being there for other broken hearted families so they didn't have to navigate tragedy on their own was my purpose.

It begged the question, did Emma have to die? Had I found the illusive reason for her death? For if she had survived that mutinous cord, I would still be one of the blissfully ignorant women get pregnant and nine months later they all have babies people. And SSV wouldn't exist. And my Comedian might not either. And that is too sad to even imagine.

It's not a question I'm willing to answer. Instead, I said this. "Our lives are sculpted by our experience. Mine has launched me into a supporting role. I embrace it as a way to mother my Emma, even by lifting up others."

***

Amazingly, even though each time they invite me I seem to talk about grief, loss, and tragedy; they had me back last week.

This time I shifted gears -- a little.

This post has already rambled on long enough, fueled, no doubt, from my glee to be posting at all and the glass of wine that still sits to my right, nearly gone.

My sermon can wait. But I want to share it here for I feel it pertains so much to us, those who hurt and in an attempt to try to quell our pain, give boldy. It is a message I know I need to hear again. Yet before I posted my musings from the altar, I needed you to know a little about my religious background.

It matters little what kind of Christian I am. Just that you know I am the believing kind, the faith filled kind, the kind that cursed the heavens and shunned God for years but eventually let him back in, a sliver of light at a time through a tentatively opened door. The kind with hope. The kind with a lot to give.

Has your loss defined a purpose in your life? A course of action you may not have taken if your child had lived? How do you reconcile the two?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Unwritten Words

There are so many. The opening line to a blog post as I drive to, or from work. The ingenious title that appears, then evaporates as I attempt to get it down. The topic, the analogy, the connections -- and they are gone. Without my computer at the ready and my schedule equally willing to accomodate -- I lose my thoughts.

And with them, posts. The best I seem to be able to manage is a once-a-week blog post, indulging in show and tell. It's like my chocolate. But not even that worked out this week. "Ah well", I tell myself, "there's always next." And it is true, as the next Wednesday seems to arrive before I dare to believe another week has evaporated.

Another week, gone -- another fit of worry that only 2 weeks remain until the National Wave of Light ceremony, 6 until Bowling for Babies, and the Angel ornament drive.

Slow...go slow Cara...it will all get done. It will all be successful and affirming, everything you hope it will be.


As of today the Memory Bands are available for purchase. Our kick off fundraiser for the season. They say SHARE (our logo) Forever In Our Hearts.

They are a perfect token for yourself, your families and friends who want to remember and keep your babies close without always having to put it into words. They are moderately priced at $3 each or 4 / $10. Shipping is minimal. Please pass the word and the link.

Last week my pastor was out of town and asked me to fill in for him. I did - the main point of my message preserving self even as you give of yourself to others. The balance is tricky. And so I say again...We Give Because You Share!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Show and Tell - Refrigerator Surprise

I don't love venison. It's not necessarily because of the vegetarian point of view and I'm not even bothered so much by the perspective of the hunting community. I just don't like the taste. The fact that it is leaner and therefore, healthier for you than beef, doesn't persuade me.

Honestly, I feel the same ambiguity about beef. Interestingly, I am often asked as I order a 'veggie sandwich' or a local venue's creation called 'the asparagui', "Are you a vegatarian?" To which I reply, "I could have been, but I married into the wrong family".

For, this, is what one of our chest freezers looks like, nearly empty.

In a few months I will be mentally thrown back to my retail days in the dairy cooler as we rotate the 08 meat to make space for the newly wrapped sirloin, hamburg, chuck steak, stew meat and top and bottom rounds of 2009.

And so, it is not uncommon for the inside of my fridge to look something like this:
as a variety of beef and pork selections naturally defrost to meet the requirements of my menu planning for that week.


Yesterday, I opened the fridge to see a stack of meat taller and wider than I remember taking out for the week. I pulled one package after another - venision...the whole bunch. Eyebrows furrowed, I tried to make out the markings R.K.


You see, when we slaughter it is a very old-fashioned, men in the basement with sharp objects and women upstairs with paper and tape kind of process. We, the women that is, write things on the packages like the date, what variety of cut it is, and the initials of the person who owns the chest freezer the package will call home.


C.T. would have made sense. J.T would have made more sense. D.T, his brother, could even have cause me to stop mentally searching as they often trade cuts depending on what is left in each other's stock. But R.K. I couldn't place.


And then, with a clarity and connectedness to rival Keyser Soze, it hit me...


The dent in his brother's car

The phone call Sunday morning

The glimpse of a ribcage in the back of a truck as I dropped the girls off for church


R.K.


Road Kill


There's got to be a redneck joke in there somewhere, but right now I am hardpressed to find the humor in it. Ick. Just Ick.

What are you showing and telling?

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Rainbow Baby or Two...Now What Do I Do?

Thank you to all of you who responded to my last post with some compliment to my parenting skills, my ability to impart the truth about death to two littles. Truly I appreciate your words and want so much for them to be true - but doubt myself, still.

I have read book after book after book.

I have searched blog after blog, reading similar laments that made me feel slightly better about the "if - then" consequence I had doled out earlier that morning.

I have asked therapist after therapist for 'sound advice' on parenting children in the wake of loss.

I emply empathy and compassion, trading them for the 'tried and not so true' strategies of the past.

I am continually told that I am doing the best I can and my kids will be better for it.

But nothing really solidifies it for me. In the wake of loss... that is the permeating factor here for to live in the shadow of a sister you never knew, regardless how light and pretty and non-reflective the visage is - is a shadow none-the-less.

For as I often say, parenting Emma is easy. She doesn't wake me in the dark hours of the night or fight vehamently about her dislike of green vegetables. She doesn't beg for 'just one more movie' or strike me down with a vilified look when the timer goes off on her computer time. No, she fills me with joy and light, with purpose and desire, and - of course - with sadness and longing that I wish her perfect self was here to do all those same things.

And there is the problem. On some fantastical level I truly believe that she would be this easy to parent. That if miracles could reverse the tragedy that was her death she would be filled with the resulting gratitude and embrace her life as a gift; eating all her vegetables, offering help to all in need, sailing through pre-teen years with grace, and infusing me will all the afore mentioned emotions.

Rest assured, I do live in the real world. I live with two subsequent children who are, as siblings go, as different as night and day. They see the world through different eyes. They each possess their own intrisic set of rules for living. They feel the world filtered by opposing anxiety thresholds. One is flexible to a fault, the other rigid only able to bend at the ankles. The fir tree and the oak tree if you will.

And, as any parent of siblings will tell you, it takes a different skill set to parent one than the other. But what if that toolbox was orginally filled with hope and wonder and blissfill ingnorance that the worst thing babies can endure is diaper rash has been stripped and repacked with grief, and disapointment, and reality, and an image of perfection that is unattainable at best?

Funny. My biggest fear in having rainbow babies was that I would be unable to differentiate my visualized experience of Emma from their reality. That I would compare and question and wonder until I had blended my tangible child with her angelic sister. I fought hard against this. I have not done this.
But I think, without realizing it, I have failed at a more organic level. Although I put no obvious pressure on them to achieve, I clearly enjoy them differently. I prefer to venture into the world with them individually, embracing whatever they have to offer on that day; leaving the other one to do the same with daddy, or nana, or Grandma.

Perhaps it is a natural response of an only child raising siblings. Or perhaps it is a natural consequence of living intense joy after life-altering loss. I don't have answers, only questions - as ususal. But now, these queries are laced with doses of guilt that I might prefer one reality to another, one self-made fantasy to the facts that are placed before me.

This is hard. Really hard. I am doing my best, and - without saying too much about what our family is currently going through - I hope that the best I am doing is what they need, what will allow them to flourish.

So thanks for your words - and if you are having, or have a tiny rainbow baby and want to remember who they are in connection to their angel sibling check out this awesome link. I wish I'd had one or two!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Show and Tell: Birthdays and Deathdays

I suppose there really isn't much of a difference in this show and tell.
We celebrated Emma Grace last Tuesday on what would have been her 9th birthday.
No pictures of her thined out, well past little girl face. Just those of our everchanging ones that transform annually in her scrapbook.



The cake, strawberry - just as Bear said it should be.

Days later, the phone rang. "Great Gram has passed" my mother in law said, continuing with details about the funeral this week.

"Your Great, Great Grandmother has died" I told the kids, next day over breakfast.

"Is that the lady that Gram took me to see?" asked Bear, "The one who was 100 and sooooo old she couldn't even get out of bed, or walk, or talk?"

"Yes dear" I said, "that's her. Great Great Gram Brown". "Oh," continued Bear, "Well I still have a Grandma and a Great Grandma and Emma was waiting for her so I guess everything is just fine."

Oh Yes my sweet girl. A long and happy life ended by age is what I would call 'just fine'. And, although it took me a bit of time to find this picture, it was worth it to remember when she could walk, and talk, and hold newborn baby girls with the love of family still intact in her mind and heart.


What are you show and telling?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eeeek - There's A Louse In The House

Or, a few hundred...

Seriously. I'm that lucky.

Perhaps I needed a distraction to navigate my grief this year. A mission comprised of mountains of laundry, magnified by loads of patience. Whatever the reason when the phone rang on the first day of my second week of school - on Emma's Birthday - I looked up, instantly knowing it was for me, and that it wasn't going to be good.

Another teacher held the phone out to me.

"Cara" my mom said, "Um, I hate to put this on you today of all days but Comedian has been sent home with lice."

No. Seriously. Cause I'm just that fortunate.

"I already sent dad to the pharmacy to get two treatments. I'll do both girls for you. Bear only had one nit but I'll do her anyway... Don't worry. It will be okay."

She said that for my benefit because I had burst into tears, protected from the flock of preschoolers by a small, rug-resembling makeshift wall. And, once again - without the sarcasm - I am that lucky. I don't know too many nana's that choose to sit and de-louse their grandchildren's hair.

And, it has been okay. I mean, aside from those mountains of laundry and bagging all the stuffed animals in the house and changing Comedian's sheets everyday, and having to call in to work on my second week because the fed.e.rally fun.d.ed preschool she attends has their own 'no nit' policy. I kinda get it. No, I do - because if I was on the other side of this fence, I'd get it. Still, it isn't called a nuisance condition for nothing.

Even so, I must say that I have enjoyed my time with Comedian. I know that might sound strange, but she has been amazingly patient with me, with this whole process. In fact, compared to the cranky, my glasses don't feel right, my body is uncomfortable, I can't possibly ever wear clothes again child I have been bemused by for the last couple weeks the new version sitting quite still with a smile ear to ear Did you get another dead one mummy? is quite lovely.

We chat while I pick nits. She has watched more 'tiny movies' than I could have ever believed I'd allow. Her hair is cleaner than its ever been. Can I see? she askes as I squish yet another sticky egg like sac onto a piece of tape, can we save them to show daddy? They are soooo coool.

Um. Yeah. I'm really that lucky.

So, the long and short of it (HA! Just cracked myself up as her hair was halfway down her back and now grazes her ears!*), anyway -the long and short of it is, it could have been much, much, much, much worse.

Like - Bear having it. Which she doesn't. *Whew* she says as a thank you to the big man above.

But, it has - once again - consumed any available time I had for me and all that other time I already had designated for other things.

A Lesson In Patience was my other potential post title. Damn, if ever I needed any...now's the time.

See you when every last, cottin' pickin', sticky little nit has been removed from my child's head and she's been readmitted to school!

*pictures at the Bear and Comedian as soon as possible.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Emma Grace

There is a plan for today wrapped in the kind of traditions we created to measure unquantifiable things.

We will measure her burning bush. How tall would you be.
We will take pictures of her grave with a newly potted mum. What would your new look be?
We will eat a strawberry drip cake with vanilla pudding frosting. What would your favorite flavor be?

Most of the time I have made peace with these answerless questions. In fact, most of the time I just make it up in my head, creating a satisfactory picture much like a sketch artist in a police station. But yesterday my living children, her sisters, posed the questions in such a way that my bland answers of third grade kind of tall just didn't seem to cut it.

"I know" Bear said, "She be just about as tall as the Maddie in third grade, you know, the skinny one and she'd have long straight dark brown hair kind of like me, but longer and her favorite flavor of cake is definately strawberry cause daddy's the only one who really likes it and he needs someone on his side."

So, there you have it. A picture of Emma I've never seen sketched with words by her little sister.

After crying myself to sleep last night I woke to messages from around the globe filled with loving words, supporting advice, and reminders that I'm not in this alone - that the supporter needs to allow herself to be supported every now and then.

I'll take that with me to work today. I can do this. I have to do this.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Day of Labor

September 7th.

Otherwise known to be called: the day before the day, the day when everything happened

Annually - the day I fall apart, the day the world becomes a movie theatre and everywhere I look images of my past appear, hospital scenes laced with self doubt lead to an affirming, silent climax play on a revolving screne.

It has taken nine years, but it seems the world has finally got it right. "Happy Labor Day" they will say as I drop a memory box off to a volunteer woodworker, visit a daycare where Comedian will go a couple hours a week during the gap when preschool ends and my job doesn't, and spend some special moments with my mother celebrating her birthday - belatedly.

I will smile in return. No more. For their words hit my heart, fit my memory with an accute precision they can never understand. Yes, I did labor on this day. My body riding wave after wave of contractions while my mind lived in a deluded science-fiction, hollywood ending type haze that if I endured enough pain for my allegedly 'expired' baby, she would emerge alive, a miracle capable of wiping those pitying looks off all their faces.

This has always been my labor day. It always will be.

The images have faded, a little. The movie, syndicated, so I only seem to see certain, select scenes.

For I must labor today.

I have been away for two days. My children need love and attention. My house needs the same, The errands must be run. The tomatoes must be canned. The press releases must be drafted, the events are only one and two months away respectively. New parent packets must be made for the meeting on Wednesday. Mothers are still laboring. Babies are still dying.

There is work to be done. laboring.

Perhaps I'll wear my pin today, my necklace too. Maybe they are meant to don my body two days a year.

Emma Grace entered this world, September 8th at 3:30 am. Her birthday - eternally. I knew, resisted, felt certain, doubted, was told, went delusional, then labored on September 7th.

Happy Labor Day to all...I'll never forget.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

When The Warm Wind Blows...

When the warm wind blows...all the 5 years old go to the middle.
When the warm wind blows...all the kids having hot lunch go to the middle.
When the warm wind blows...go the middle if you like the color yellow.

We used to play this game with the Kindergarteners. They loved it, flowing from the outer rim to the inner circle and back. It was an exercise in listening.

Present Day:

When the Warm Wind Blowed...I followed it, through the rolling mountain hills to a little town called Eden, Vermont - where, it turns out:

  • there is no cell service
  • there is no wifi
  • there are no motels, or hotels, or campgrounds.

My original plan had been to sleep in my van, seats submerged. Jer talked me into taking the truck.

I showed up at Jeff's house unannounced thanks to a forsightful moment when I hit print on the mapquest directions to his address.

"Know of any good places to stay?" I asked, a smile playing on his bemused face. "How about my daughter's room?" he relplied, "She can sleep in with us for the night."

And so, I came to sleep in a very comfortable bed of a highly-articulate 2 1/2 year old surrounded by pictures and memories of her older brother, Simon. His life had been short. 99 days to be exact, before he flew without reason in his sleep. SIDS they call it. Tragedy on another family.

Yet, like so many other families struck down before, they rallied years later to reach out, to create awareness, which is why the warm wind blew me here to this sleepy little town.

Today I will set up Share Southern Vermont's booth and tell our story over and over. Today I will walk five miles, surrounded by others who have their own story.

My Story...

Nine Years ago today I awoke instinctivly knowing something was wrong. Orginally written for my book (another long story in itself) I plan to publish my day to day, mini countdown to Emma's birthday.

In fact, it would have been this post if the flighty attendant at the Sta.pl.es C.opy C.en.ter had remembered to give back my thumb drive after running 200 copies of our brochure and contact cards.

Ah - well, the wind sure it blowing this weekend. And, shockingly, I have finally learned to listen. A few stolen minutes on a friend's computer is enough. Reading blogs will have to wait - again. *sigh*

Home this evening - after I pick up my memory stick and the store credit I demanded...cause I'm like that!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Meaning of Work

It isn’t work if you love what you do…

I’ve heard this over and over, throughout my life. Find your purpose and working will feel like playing.

I found my purpose. It doesn’t feel like work.

I love working on Share, reaching out to families, planning awareness events, pulling together fundraisers, writing press releases, networking and collaborating with other support groups, even sending condolance cards to newly bereaved families.

It feels that that thing I'm supposed to do. With one very obvious exception. Noone has knocked on my door yet smiling ear to ear saying, "What a lovely job you have done starting this outreach. My boss would like to be your benefactor and pay you a healthy wage to keep doing it!"

My guess is he's not coming.

Last Tuesday I went back to work. You know, the kind where you have to arrive on time and stay until your contract says you can go? I love that work too, truly I do - but this job is never far from my mind.

And, with it, the fact that I am getting more behind as each pre-school, water stays in the cup, no - you may not throw trains, um - we need clean up in the bathroom, again - minute passes.

My rigidly organized spreadsheets ensure that familes will not fall through the cracks, that newspapers will get the press release before the deadline, that all volunteers are on the same page, and each monthly meeting reminder goes out exactly 7 days prior to the gathering. No, it is my lack of time for blogging, and consequently reading other blogs, that has me in a mental tailspin.

I am having a Pam.p.ered C.hef show later this month. (Not really my thing but I promised hubby as soon as the kitchen was DONE I would. He finished it about a year ago...*sigh* promises must be kept) Anyway, as I was compliling my list of invitees I found myself writing all YOUR names and it was a long minute before I realized that you can't come. You don't live here. We can't just hop in the car and physically see each other. Moreover, you might be a little cranky with me for lack of 'hanging out' with you lately.

I am going away alone this weekend. The point of the trip is to attend The SIMON Project's Ride to Remember. I will be networking as they are a SIDS awareness and prevention group. I will also be alone with my computer during down time and I am very much looking forward to catching up on your blogs and your lives.

Know this as my days meld into weeks working out of the house! Even if I missed a big announcement, a healthy delivery, a slight scare, a rough day, an all around crappy week, I have been thinking of you, praying for you through it all.

My best friends in the world are ones I see but two or three times a year. The conversation flows like the break never existed. This is how I think of you. Although, rest assured I won't dissapear without letting you know!!

Be seeing you this weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Show and Tell: The Tell Is Not Always The Show!

For example:
The closest we made it to Mt. Washington was here -

the up and down, so narrow I thought my life might be in danger more than once trail road of Smuggler's Notch.

And, our ride up the trail? These,


two borrowed, and not-so-cushiony I might add, bikes that left my arse feeling might sore for days to come. Still I managed 8 scenic miles, ooohhing and ahhhing all the way. FYI - The bike path along Lake Champlain in Burlington is gorgeous!

And, our version of camping?
We DID have the tent, air matress (without a way to blow it up, but would have figured it out), a shovel, food, and tp - but then we saw the clouds roll in and heard someone say the word 'hurricane' with some disscussion before and after and decided to call Jer's cousin who happily took us in!!

So - have you guessed our dream weekend vacation? Yup - we played tourist in our home state!!
And, it was FUN!
There was a little bit of this. Um...a chain resturant is like crack to us have to drive 45 minutes to think of reaching one.

You KNOW I can't resist this two-word phrase. We visited three winerys on this trip, yeah - in Vermont! And Jer doesn't even like wine. I guess he must love me ...


Did a little fishing...




Made a kickin' meat sauce, that added the right taste to the homemade lasagna.

Procured all the necessary ingrediants for making our OWN fruit wine. See, I told you he loved me!

And took a slight detour on the way home to taste some icccce -creeeaaam!

All in all - one of the best weekends in a long time. So how's that for flying life by the seat of your pants?

Not bad for a girl that used to make a spreadsheet just to decide what movie to go see. Now, what is the rest of the class showing and telling?

Lost Found Connections Abound! It Works - So Let's Use It!

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CATCH UP FROM THE START!

TO READ MY STORY FROM THE BEGINNING CLICK HERE THEN READ THE 7 COUNTDOWN POSTS TO EMMA'S EIGHTH BIRTHDAY!


Time Is Both My Best Ally and My Worst Enemy: My Meltdown 8 Years Later